Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings
December 26 - St. Stephen's Day
"Good King Wenceslas" is the last song of Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings. The subject of this song was actually a duke of Bohemia in the tenth century, and is now the patron saint of the Czech Republic. This song is another example of John Mason Neale setting new lyrics to a tune from the Piae Cantiones. The Oxford Book of Carols also prints a translation of the original lyrics to "Tempus adest floridum", a Spring carol, which the editors (and others) much prefer to "Good King Wenceslas". The tune is quite fun to play on the banjo, and the carol is quite appropriate for St. Stephen's day.
I hope you have enjoyed listening to Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings over the past month. I've enjoyed learning to play all the songs and bringing them to you every day. I am thinking about doing this again next year, and perhaps adding some additional instruments. If you'd be interested in collaborating with me on this next year (no need to be local), especially if you have a good voice and would be interested in doing vocals, let me know.
Good King Wenceslas
Words: John Mason Neale, 1853.
Music: TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM, 13th Century spring carol, first published in the Swedish Piae Cantiones, 1582.
Good King Wenceslas looked out,
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, Deep and crisp and even:
Brightly shone the moon that night, Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight, Gath'ring winter fuel.
"Hither page and stand by me,
If thou know'st it, telling,
Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence, By Saint Agnes' fountain."
"Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither:
Thou and I will see him dine, When we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, Forth they went together;
Though the rude wind's wild lament And the bitter weather.
"Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know now how; I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page; Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly."
In his master's steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing.